Vulgar Snark Open Thread: Jim Webb for Secretary of Defense

It’ll never happen, of course, because Trump has the successful bully’s instinct for avoiding confrontations with anyone who has both the temperament and the capacity to fight back. In fact, I’m pretty sure this rumor was floated by Trump sycophants (possibly in employment with the NYTimes) hoping to flatter Lord Smallgloves by suggesting he was the sort of Manly Leader who could keep Jim Webb on a leash, like a platinum-charting rapper who buys a tiger for a pet.

But I’m nasty and petty, and from the same (bogtrotting “Scotch-Irish”) clan as Mr. Webb. So I can enjoy this fantasy, from the other side of the looking-glass. Because I’m pretty sure that Webb, within a few weeks, would not just “walk out” but lunge across the table to punch out Donald Trump — who might actually have a fear-induced fatal aneurysm before the Secret Service pulled Webb away.

I would watch the hell out of that video when it was leaked to YouTube… even if it didn’t include Mike Pence simultaneously crying out to his God and wetting himself, while the rest of the craven Oval Office cabal scrambled for cover.

… Representatives for Vice President Mike Pence and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, have reached out to Mr. Webb, one of the three officials said. Separately, a senior Defense Department official confirmed that Mr. Webb’s name had been circulating at the White House. Those two and the third official all spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal discussions.

Mr. Webb did not respond to a request for comment, and a White House official said the vice president’s staff has had no contact with Mr. Webb. How seriously he is being considered was unclear; Mr. Trump likes to float names as he considers his options for various openings in the government — sometimes to test responses and sometimes to keep the news media guessing…

Mr. Webb, now 72, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968 and served in Vietnam as a Marine rifle platoon and company commander. He was wounded twice and awarded the Navy Cross, a prestigious award that ranks just below the Medal of Honor, along with other valor awards…

James Fallows, ever the optimist, points out that Webb’s old-working-class-white-guy misogyny (Fallows does not use those words, but that is what’s described) would probably endear him to Trump.

Late Night Open Thread: Another Act in the Shutdown Shitshow Begins

Of course Trump doesn’t mind being in the spotlight, even a negative spotlight. But Mitch McConnell is every bit as selfish as Donny Dollhands, and a lot smarter about how he’s perceived by normal people his voters. He doesn’t mind being the anonymous Little Man Behind the Curtain, destroying other peoples’ lives for his own benefit — but how much appetite does he have for getting yelled at in public?

From the Washington Post, “House Democrats vote to reopen government and deny Trump wall money, defying veto threat”:

The newly Democratic-controlled House passed a package of bills late Thursday that would reopen the federal government without paying for President Trump’s border wall, drawing a swift veto threat from the White House and leaving the partial shutdown no closer to getting resolved.

But two Senate Republicans who are up for reelection in 2020 broke with Trump and party leaders on their shutdown strategy, saying it was time to end the impasse even if Democrats won’t give Trump the more than $5 billion in border funding he is demanding.

The comments from Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Susan Collins (Maine) — the only Senate Republicans running for reelection in states Trump lost — pointed to cracks within the GOP that could grow as the shutdown nears the two-week mark. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated Thursday that the Senate will only take up government spending legislation that Trump supports…

The six-bill package passed the House 241-190 Thursday night, and the short-term Homeland Security spending bill passed 239-192. A handful of Republicans broke ranks on each measure to vote “yes” with the Democrats.

The House strategy could allow Senate Republicans to pass legislation that would reopen most of the government while setting aside the debate over the border wall. But thus far, because of Trump’s opposition, party leaders have refused…

“What we’re asking the Republicans in the Senate to do is to take ‘yes’ for an answer. We are sending them back exactly, word for word, what they have passed,” Pelosi said. “Why would they not do that? Is it because the president won’t sign it? Did they not hear about the coequal branch of government, and that we the Congress send the president legislation and he can choose to sign or not?”…

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Thursday Morning Open Thread: Cheering for Pelosi

E.J. Dionne, in the Washington Post, “Nancy Pelosi vows that House Democrats won’t act like Republicans”:

Incoming speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to be clear about what the new Democratic House majority will not be: They will not, she insists, act like the Republicans.

“We believe that we will not become them,” she said in a New Year’s Day phone interview during a visit to her native Baltimore. “We’re not going to do to them what they did to President Obama. . . . It’s really important for us not to become them and certainly not to become like the president of the United States in terms of how he speaks without any basis of fact, evidence, data or truth…”

Pelosi also pushed back hard against the idea that, in holding Trump and his administration accountable, Democrats would be engaging in some sort of investigative orgy. On the contrary, she said, Article I of the Constitution grants Congress responsibility for “oversight over the agencies of government.”

She added pointedly: “We don’t want the administration describing the traditional congressional responsibility for oversight to be labeled ‘investigation.’ There may be some investigations that spring from another purpose, but we will be strategic and not political when it comes to that.” She senses no need to explain or elaborate on the meaning of the words “another purpose,” even though they represent a potentially mortal threat to Trump’s presidency…
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Cold Grey Pre-Dawn Open Thread: The Oval Office Occupant Is (Further) Decompensating

Edith Wilson stepped up after her husband’s stroke, and Nancy Reagan did her best to harry Reagan’s advisors into covering for his decline into Alzheimer’s. But even if Melania cared, can we pretend she has any actual influence over her anchor-husband?

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Repub Stupidity Open Thread: Guess *Somebody* Owns Stock in Acme Novelties

When all you have is a tool, and that tool is your Dear Leader, everything looks ripe to be hammered on…

…“The more the focus is on the wall, the more Pelosi is forced to focus on this fight instead of the investigations,” said one source close to the White House, expressing a sentiment shared with The Daily Beast by three other individuals allied with Trump. “It’s a situation where [Trump] has no choice but to shut it down. It’s the best of the worst choices. It’s really the only choice [because] I think there are people who would vote for him today who might not if he gave in too quickly.”…

On Thursday, Republican leadership all but conceded that they would not be able to pass a funding bill until the next Congress convenes next year. But not everyone in the party universally shares a fight-it-out mindset. Some fear that the president’s open willingness to “proudly” own the shutdown will backfire and others legitimately see geopolitical harm in not having a fully functioning federal government. Inside Trump world, however, people have grown emboldened by the idea that a standoff will prove beneficial politically; or, at least, give Pelosi some early fits…

Today’s GOP: The ‘You Are Not the Boss of Me‘ Party.

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Friday Morning Open Thread: Time’s Up

From Charlie Pierce’s latest sub-required ‘Last Call’ newsletter:

… The fight over the wall was the first indication that some gears were coming unsprung. At a now-famous photo-op with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the president* looked utterly at sea, obsequious at one moment and truculent the next, boasting that he would be “proud” to shut down the government if he didn’t get the money for his big, beautiful wall. This moment brought home starkly the change in politics that is going to come when the Democrats take over the House of Representatives in January. Hearing the president* take ownership of a possible shutdown on his own behalf and that of his party made more than a few Republicans puddle up in their shoes…

And now, a NYTimes op-ed from Elizabeth Drew, who made the journalist hall of fame with her coverage of Watergate — “The Inevitability of Impeachment”:

An impeachment process against President Trump now seems inescapable. Unless the president resigns, the pressure by the public on the Democratic leaders to begin an impeachment process next year will only increase. Too many people think in terms of stasis: How things are is how they will remain. They don’t take into account that opinion moves with events.

Whether or not there’s already enough evidence to impeach Mr. Trump — I think there is — we will learn what the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has found, even if his investigation is cut short. A significant number of Republican candidates didn’t want to run with Mr. Trump in the midterms, and the results of those elections didn’t exactly strengthen his standing within his party. His political status, weak for some time, is now hurtling downhill…

I don’t share the conventional view that if Mr. Trump is impeached by the House, the Republican-dominated Senate would never muster the necessary 67 votes to convict him. Stasis would decree that would be the case, but the current situation, already shifting, will have been left far behind by the time the senators face that question. Republicans who were once Mr. Trump’s firm allies have already openly criticized some of his recent actions, including his support of Saudi Arabia despite the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and his decision on Syria. They also openly deplored Mr. Mattis’s departure.

It always seemed to me that Mr. Trump’s turbulent presidency was unsustainable and that key Republicans would eventually decide that he had become too great a burden to the party or too great a danger to the country. That time may have arrived. In the end the Republicans will opt for their own political survival. Almost from the outset some Senate Republicans have speculated on how long his presidency would last. Some surely noticed that his base didn’t prevail in the midterms.

But it may well not come to a vote in the Senate. Facing an assortment of unpalatable possibilities, including being indicted after he leaves office, Mr. Trump will be looking for a way out. It’s to be recalled that Mr. Nixon resigned without having been impeached or convicted. The House was clearly going to approve articles of impeachment against him, and he’d been warned by senior Republicans that his support in the Senate had collapsed. Mr. Trump could well exhibit a similar instinct for self-preservation. But like Mr. Nixon, Mr. Trump will want future legal protection…

Nixon’s GOP backed Tricky Dick 110% — until they didn’t. The old crook was able to broker a soft landing, in no small part because so many other Repubs were complicit in his crimes. But Trump’s GOP is a lot dumber, crueler, and infinitely more self-centered than the early 1970s incarnation; I’m not sure they have the power, or the skill, to hustle their Dear Leader off to a gilt-plated exile without falling apart entirely. Or maybe that’s just what I hope.

Happy Friday, y’all!

Late Night Aftermath Open Thread

This is good, though…